Back to Rome

On 29 January, Cardijn left for Rome for the second plenary meeting of the PCLA.

As usual, he sought to maximise the trip, staying on for several extra days until 12 February in order to meet other Vatican officials and contacts.

Interestingly, Marguerite Fiévez records Cardijn’s visit as being from 30 January until 10 February. Presumably the extra days recorded on the invoice from the retreat centre where he stayed were arrival, rest and departure days.

And who would begrudge Cardijn a day’s rest after his packed recent travel and work schedule?


Invoice (Archives Cardijn 1301)

Note by Marguerite Fiévez (Archives Cardijn 1300)

More papers to read

1961 01 017 - PCLA Cv8

Cardijn’s now back in Brussels after his long, exhausting trip to Africa. No time to rest, however, as on 27 January 1961 the PCLA sent out a new packet of documents – mostly in Latin – in preparation for the forthcoming meeting of the Commission.

This meeting is slated to commence on 31 January.


Archives Cardijn 1584

Joos ready to meet Cardijn in Brussels

Joos - Cardijn 27 01 1961

And on 27 January 1961, Mgr Joos wrote to Cardijn himself, responding to Cardijn’s request for assistance on 14 December 1960.

“A very big thank you for your letter,” Mgr Joos wrote.

The translation and re-reading that Cardijn had requested was “no bother at all.”

“What I fear most is betraying your thought when you entrust me with documents to check,” Joos wrote. “Let me tell you how much I once again admired your deep sense of the Church.”

Clearly, however, Cardijn wanted further discussion or collaboration.

“I would be happy to come and see you in BRUSSELS whenever possible,” Joos offered.

French original

Mgr Désiré Joos – Cardijn 27 01 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Mgr Désiré Joos – Cardijn 27 01 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

YCW founder receives Congo honor

Returning home from a Pan-African meeting of the Young Christian Workers in Lome, Togo, West Central Africa, Msgr. Joseph Cardijn, founder and chaplain general of the YCW, was honored during a stopover in Leopoldville, Congo. Upper left, Msgr. Cardijn, speaks to an enthusiastic crowd at a reception in his honor. Upper right photo, Msgr. Cardijn visits with YCW members he met during last year’s visit. In the lower photo, Msgr. Cardijn (third from left) is shown reciting the workers’ prayer. Others shown are: (from the left) Father Bonte, national YCW chaplain; Father De Schaetzen; Msgr. Cardijn; Msgr. Gastone Mojaisky-Perelli, Apostolic Delegate to the Congo and Ruanda Urundi; Auxiliary Bishop Malula of Leopoldville; Father Ekwa; Andre Bo-boliko, assistant high commissioner for Social Affairs of the Congo; and Jacques Matabisi, national president of the International Council of the YCW. (NC Photos)


YCW founder receives Congo honor (The Catholic World in Pictures, 23 January 1961) (The Catholic News Archive)

36 Belgians in the Prep Coms

La Libre Belgique 19 01 1961

The Belgian paper, La Libre Belgique reported on 19 January 1961 that 36 Belgians, including of course Cardijn, had been appointed to the various preparatory commissions for the coming Second Vatican Council.

Others who were close to Cardijn, the JOC and/or other Specialised Catholic Action movements included:

Cardinal Jozef-Ernest Van Roey of Malines-Brussels, Cardijn’s own archbishop and a long-standing supporter, but now aged 87;

Bishop Emiel-Jozef De Smedt of Bruges, a dynamic young bishop (aged 52) who had worked with the VKAJ, the Flemish female JOC, and whose sister Livine, had been a fulltime worker for the VKAJ who had also helped launch the JOC in Germany;

Fr Bernard Botte osb, a Benedictine liturgist, who was prominent in the liturgical reform movement;

Fr Lucien Cerfaux, a Louvain theologian, New Testament scholar and expert in Paulinian theology, who had been advisor to Cardijn and the JOC during the late 1940s.

But others less sympathetic to Cardijn included the ambitious young auxiliary bishop of Malines-Brussels, Leon-Joseph Suenens.

A notable omission from the preparatory commissions was Mgr Gerard Philips, the Louvain theologian and author of an influential book Le rôle du laïcat dans l’Eglise, published in French in 1954, and in English as The Role of the Laity in the Church in 1955.


Archives JOCI

Cardinal Jozef-Ernest Van Roey (Catholic Hierarchy)

Bishop Emiel-Jozef De Smedt (Catholic Hierarchy)

Bernard Botte osb (Liturgical Leaders)

Stefan Gigacz, The liturgical movement and Catholic Action (Cardijn Research)

Lucien Cerfaux (

Lucien Cerfaux (

The work continues

Joos - Fiévez 19 01 1961

Even during Cardijn’s absence in Africa, work continues back in Belgium to prepare his submissions for the PCLA.

On 19 January 1961, Tournai vicar-general, Mgr Désiré Joos, writes to Marguerite Fiévez in response to Cardijn’s earlier request to assist him with the drafting and translation into Latin of his documents.

“I tried to send you a few suggestions for correction and translation as quickly as possible,” he wrote.

“It’s always awkward to put on someone else’s boots! I hope I have not betrayed anything,” he added apologetically.

“My apologies that the Latin is not typed up; we just didn’t have time.”


Original French

Mgr Désiré Joos – Fiévez 19 01 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Mgr Désiré Joos – Fiévez 1901 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Linking the life of the world with the Council program

Writing in the magazine, Informations Catholiques Internationales, French priest and Secours catholique founder, Mgr Jean Rodhain, wrote:

Sans être prophète,, on peut parier qu’un jour ou l’autre, ce pionnier qui, du Pérou aux Indes, a visité les masses misérables du monde entier, interviendra de toute sa flamme pour relier la vie du monde avec le programme du Concile?


Without being a prophet, one can bet that one day or another, this pioneer, who from Peru to the Indies, has visited the miserable masses of the whole world, will intervene with all his fire to link the life of the world to the program of the Council?


Henri de Riedmatten, Histoire de la Constitution pastorale in Gauudium et Spes, L’Eglise dans le monde de ce temps, Mamé, Paris, 1967.


Fondation Jean Rodhain

Keegan will go to Rome

The Team minutes 06 01 1961

On 6 January 1961, a group of former YCW leaders, mostly from England but also the USA and Canada, who met together as “The Team,” noted that Pat Keegan, the first president of the JOC Internationale, planned to leave the USA, where he was currently on visitation, in mid-January in order to travel to Rome for “the meeting of the lay apostolate” at the beginning of February.

This visit was evidently timed to coincide with the next meeting of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.


English YCW Archives